Food for Thought

Three years ago I arrived at Strathclyde halls anticipating my new digs. I knew I’d be spending the rest of my year there living, sleeping and (perhaps more terrifyingly) cooking and eating beside strangers whose habits might not be in sync with my own. When one of my flatmates sat down late one night with a meal of digestive biscuits smeared with tuna mayonnaise … for her dinner (!), anticipation soon turned into bizarre confusion.  

Welcome to halls!

You’re probably already aware that it’s tempting to slip into the habit of super noodles, takeaways and everything in-between. But allow yourself to fall and this time next year you might find yourself a little chubby round the edges and desperately budgeting in your weekly Dominoes.

No doubt your mother’s already told you that buying your ingredients and cooking for yourself is cheaper. You were given a kitchen, a cooker and flatmates for a reason; you might use these as best you can.

I‘d like to think my relative normality with regard to my eating habits had some sort of positive influence on ‘Ms Tuna-Biscuits’, but I probably don’t need to emphasise to you the benefits cooking for yourself when you move away from home. Here’s a little secret, though: when you know exactly what you’re putting in your food, there’s also a good chance it’s healthier. Not only that, it provides a bit of self-satisfaction and fun too.

Here are two easy (and tasty) recipes to help you along:

Chunky Vegetable Soup


2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 potato, chopped into small chunks
1 leek, chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 good handful of parsley
1 ½ tablespoons butter
1 ½ chicken stock cubes (substitute with vegetable stock for a vegetarian soup)
¾ litres of water
splash of milk


  1. Wash the vegetables and chop them all up.
  2. Melt the butter in a pot. Add all the vegetables (minus the tin of tomatoes) and the parsley. Gently fry until sizzling.
  3. Add the tin of tomatoes and the sugar.
  4. Make the chicken stock (i.e. add stock cubes to boiling water and stir), then add to the vegetables in the pot.
  5. Bring to the boil and simmer until vegetables are soft.
  6. Add a good splash of milk, sprinkle more parsley on top, season to taste and serve with crusty bread!

(If there’s too much soup: share with a friend. Or alternatively: freeze it once it cools down.)

A Twist on Spaghetti Carbonara


Dried pasta of your choice (or spaghetti are always good)
about 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
A couple of mushrooms, diced
1 courgette, diced
around 2-3 tablespoons Philadelphia Light cheese
good splash of milk
a few slices of smoked bacon, diced
a handful of parsley, roughly chopped
salt and pepper


  1. Cook the pasta (as directed of the pack) in a large-ish pot.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion and garlic until softened.
  3. Add the bacon and fry until cooked.
  4. Add the courgettes and mushrooms. Cook until the excess liquid has drained off.
  5. Add the Philadelphia cheese and milk and continue to cook over a low heat until the cheese has melted.
  6. Drain the pasta, return to the pot, and stir in the Philly mixture and parsley.
  7. Season to taste, serve with a little salad, and enjoy!

(The measurements for both these dishes are quite rough. Can add more or less depending on how many you’re cooking for. And you can tweak the ingredients if you want to. You could change the bacon for a smoked sausage, or you could add a couple of baby tomatoes, or you could use a different herb. Whatever you like!)   

Words by Rachel MacDonald, picture and recipies provided by Melissa Reid
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